Saturday, January 30, 2010

Kevin's Trip to Ephesus

As many of you know, I (Kevin) was recently in Istanbul, Turkey working on my Ph.D. studies. While there I had the opportunity to make a trip down to Izmir which is near the ancient city of Ephesus. Turkey is full of ancient historical sites right out of the book of Acts. All the churches in the first few chapters of Revelation were located in Turkey as well and you can go and see most of these places. However, many are just ruins of ruins. Ephesus is the one that has been, by far, the most developed and studied.

This is the view from the balcony of the apartment where we spent a couple of nights in the city of Izmir.

This is traveling on the road from Izmir to nearby Ephesus. As you can tell it is very Mediterranean. This is a grove of Olive Trees.

This is near the entrance. There is not much, mostly old bath houses, tombs and minor housing.

This place is called the Odeion and was a meeting place for the town council and for minor concerts.

This is a monument erected to Memmius in the Domitian Square and dates back to the 1st Century B.C. Now that is old!!!

Perhaps the most memorable part of the entire trip was standing on this spot in the Great Amphitheater. If you read Acts 19, you will remember that the craftsmen's guild who made idols of Artemis were very unhappy with Paul and his companions for preaching the gospel of Christ and turning people from idol worship. Two of Paul's companions were taken by the mob and brought to this very place because of the riot. It is a fascinating story of how the Lord moved in Ancient Ephesus, but it is even more powerful when you stand on the very spot where those brothers (Gaius and Aristarchus) stood and defended their faith almost 2000 years ago. As I stood there it was easy to imagine the mob and the place filled with angry people.

This is a relief of the goddess Nike (the Greek God of Victory).

In its heyday, Ephesus was quite a modern city. There were aqueducts that supplied the city with water and people even had piping running into their houses. Notice the piping in the wall.

They also had running water in their public bath houses. Water used to run under the latrines to take the waste away from the city. This is one of the public latrines and it was also a bath house. They say that the marble gets so cold that there were people whose job it was to sit there and keep it warm for you. Then you would come, give them a coin and they would get up so you could sit down. This is one great reason why I am glad I didn't live back then. :-)

The street leading to the great library. Certainly Paul and his companions walked down this very street.

This is the road leading to the sea. This is the road Paul and others used when leaving Ephesus and going to the harbor. It used to be very close to the city, but now after 2000 years of terrain change, earthquakes and rivers leaving silt deposits, the sea is almost 3 miles away from the ancient city of Ephesus.

Many of the sidewalks and homes that were excavated show incredible craftsmanship in mosaics. These are tiny pieces of colored stone that are arranged and put together in order to make a picture. They are everywhere. The one above is simply a sidewalk, but it has survived over thousands of years.

Another highlight was seeing the ancient temple of Artemis, but not for the reasons you might suspect. Historians tell us that the temple of Artemis was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and was an engineering marvel like none other. The people of Ephesus were so proud of their temple and their goddess of fertility that they even stood in the theater and shouted "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" for about two hours straight at Paul and his companions. (See Acts 19) Yet in the end, one can see that neither the goddess nor her temple were that great. This pillar is all that is left to show where the temple of artemis was. In fact, a bog developed right at the very point where the temple was constructed and most of it has sunk out of sight. In order to mark the spot for tourists, people have assembled this sad pillar and put it up. To me it is a testimony to the futility of false religion and that no matter how much we try, the things that we make with our hands and minds will only last for a time, but God is eternal. In the distance, rising above the remains of the temple of Artemis one can see the Basilica of St. John. While it is just an ancient church building that has also crumbled, it is still more vibrant and alive than anything that remains of the temple of Artemis. The followers of Artemis are no more, but those who followed Christ and built the Basilica still live on through us as we continue to follow Him. God is greater than any temple (or church building) built with stone, mortar and pillar. He is the true and living God and His kingdom is advancing through us, the church... a living building, being built up in Christ to the glory of God.

1 comment:

PapiJuan said...

I really enjoyed the trip to Turkey via your blog. Thanks, Kevin.